Monthly Archives:September 2016

CPP expansion will lead to slightly fewer jobs created, government says

19 Sep 16
No Comments

The proposed expansion of the Canada Pension Plan will have a minor impact on employment that will be largely offset over time, according to new federal projections.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented the figures on Monday to the House of Commons finance committee as MPs returned to Parliament Hill after the summer recess.

The federal government and nine of the 10 provinces have expressed support for the deal that was announced on June 20, three days after the House of Commons rose for the summer. Monday’s hearing marked the first opportunity for opposition parties to ask Mr. Morneau about the deal.

When Ottawa and the provinces first announced an outline of the plan, several key questions remained. One of those was answered on Monday, as Mr. Morneau provided Finance Canada’s economic analysis of how increased CPP payroll premiums and benefits will affect the economy.

The department estimates that in the short term, as the plan is being phased in beginning in 2019, the economy will create about 1,050 fewer jobs per year over 10 years than would have been the case without the higher premiums. However, that impact is projected to be largely reversed during the 2029-2039 period as Canadians who paid the higher premiums will have more money to spend in retirement.

To put those figures into context, Statistics Canada reported in August that employment increased by 77,000 jobs compared with 12 months earlier.

“The real impact of a stronger CPP will be felt long-term,” Mr. Morneau said. “That’s because Canadian retirees will have more money to spend on their needs, like healthy food, transportation and housing costs, which will lead to greater confidence, more jobs, and create the conditions for overall economic growth in Canada.”

The upbeat picture of the economic impact of the changes is in sharp contrast to warnings from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group. Dan Kelly, president of the federation, has said that about a third of CFIB members said in a survey that they will be laying off staff in response to the CPP changes.

Conservative MPs challenged Mr. Morneau on his economic projections, pointing to the concerns of small business owners who will have to pay higher premiums.

Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said the higher premiums represent a tax on Canadians, even though Mr. Morneau argued the premiums are a form of savings, not a tax.

“When something comes off your paycheque and you no longer have it, it’s a tax hike and that’s exactly what this is,” Ms. Ambrose told reporters following the committee meeting.

“The CPP tax hike, we know, will cost thousands of dollars to a working couple and to families and now we know it will also result in job losses and will cost billions of dollars to the economy. We all know that tax hikes do not create jobs. Tax hikes do not spur on the economy,” she said.

Finance Canada provided reporters with a background briefing on the CPP changes on Monday ahead of Mr. Morneau’s presentation. Some of the questions that remain unanswered in the information released to the media include whether British Columbia will give its official approval to the deal, how the billions in new premium revenue will be invested by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and how the changes will affect federal and provincial benefits aimed at low-income seniors.

The CPP is run jointly by the federal and provincial governments. Any changes to the program require the support of Ottawa and two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the population. In June, every province except Quebec agreed to the deal. However, the B.C. government later announced that it was launching consultations on the plan. The province has yet to announce the results of those consultations.

The plan agreed to in June would increase the maximum CPP retirement benefit from the current $13,110 to nearly $20,000, in 2016 dollars.

To pay for these new benefits, higher premiums will be phased in over a seven-year period beginning in 2019. For an individual earning $54,900, they will contribute an additional $6 per month in 2019 and an additional $43 per month once the change is fully phased in.

According to Finance Canada, families are at risk of under-saving for retirement if their projected after-tax income at retirement does not replace 60 per cent of their pre-retirement income. The department says 24 per cent of Canadian families currently fall into this category and that the changes will reduce this to 18 per cent.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Trudeau pledges $64.5-million in humanitarian aid at UN conference

19 Sep 16
No Comments

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showcased Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis at the United Nations Monday and urged other countries to help solve the unprecedented global migrant crisis – a theme he is expected to take up again in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly Tuesday.

Mr. Trudeau took the lead on his call for global action by announcing $64.5-million in new funding to help meet immediate, life-saving needs of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world. The money will be funnelled to international organizations, including UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, over three years.

The Liberal government will also increase humanitarian assistance spending by 10 per cent this fiscal year to $752-million from $684-million last year.

“We have a responsibility – as all countries do – to do more to help solve the global refugee and migration crisis,” Mr. Trudeau said during a round-table discussion on refugees with Queen Rania of Jordan.

Canadian non-governmental organizations welcomed the new humanitarian-assistance funding Monday, but warned that money alone will not solve the global migrant crisis. “As Canada considers itself as a champion of responsibility sharing, we would have liked to have seen an increase in [refugee] resettlement numbers,” said Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada policy adviser.

Canada has resettled more than 31,000 Syrian refugees since last November, a feat Mr. Trudeau highlighted Monday.

“That’s a pretty big accomplishment, and it’s one that could not have happened without the help and support of Canadians in communities all across the country,” he said.

The government expects to welcome more than 44,000 Syrians by the end of the year, including 17,800 privately sponsored refugees.

Immigration Minister John McCallum, who joined Mr. Trudeau in New York this week, said many countries wanted to learn more about Canada’s unique private-sponsorship system. The program allows groups of individuals to sponsor refugees by committing to financially support them during their first year in Canada.

“I know the U.K. is interested,” Mr. McCallum told reporters Monday. “We have had interest expressed from several countries.”

World leaders also signed a declaration Monday calling on countries that can resettle or reunite many more refugees to do so. More than 60 million people are displaced globally, according to the UN Refugee Agency. CARE Canada said the Trudeau government needs to ensure it will follow through with its commitment to the New York Declaration, which is not legally binding.

“One of the shortcomings in the New York Declaration is the lack of an accountability mechanism. So, will Canada hold itself accountable to these new pledges?” said Shaughn McArthur, advocacy and government relations adviser for CARE Canada.

Mr. Trudeau will address the UN Security Council Tuesday. His speech comes as Canada begins its campaign for the rotating 2021-22 Security Council seat, for which is faces stiff competition from Norway and Ireland.

The Security Council consists of five permanent member states – China, France, Russia, Britain and the U.S. – and 10 non-permanent seats. Unlike permanent member states, temporary members do not have veto power. Mr. McCallum said that despite this rule, Canada can still play an important role on the Security Council.

“We have a bigger say when we are part of the debate at the Security Council than if we’re not members,” Mr. McCallum said. “We don’t want a seat just to have a seat. We want a seat so that we can better push the directions and the policies which we think are best for the world.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

Bono: ‘The world needs more Canadas’
(CP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Roméo Dallaire criticizes UN, but says peacekeeping in Canada’s interests

19 Sep 16
No Comments

It is in Canada’s interest to play a leadership role in United Nations peacekeeping, former military commander Romeo Dallaire said Monday even as he delivered a pointed critique of how the world body runs such missions.

The retired senator and lieutenant-general, who famously led the UN’s ill-fated mission in Rwanda more than 20 years ago, told a Senate committee that the world has failed to act on some much-needed reforms when it comes to peacekeeping.

The problems he cited include poor mission planning and the appointment of unqualified military officers and diplomats to lead missions and diplomatic efforts.

“There are regions where you’ve got four or five missions right beside each other that could be reinforcing each other that have no capability of doing that,” Dallaire said. “That’s why the guys don’t like to work with the UN.”

But Dallaire said the many conflicts the UN is trying to manage will have an impact on Canada in the form of refugee crises, pandemics and terrorism, and that only by returning to peacekeeping can Canada help strengthen the world body’s ability to respond.

“Those reforms are critical to the future. And I think you can move the yardsticks,” he said after the meeting.

“Don’t go away from the UN. On the contrary, get into entrails of the damn thing and start pulling out some of that stuff.”

Dallaire’s appearance before the Senate committee coincided with the return of Parliament from the summer break. Opposition critics wasted no time criticizing the Liberal government’s plan to commit up to 600 troops to at least one still-unannounced peacekeeping mission.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose accused the government of using Canadian military personnel as “pawns” in its push for a UN Security Council seat, and demanded any future deployment be subject to a debate and vote in the House of Commons.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who invited Dallaire to escort him on a tour of peacekeeping operations in East Africa in August, said the government would “welcome a healthy debate.” But he stopped short of saying whether there would be a vote.

“We fully understand the complexity of peace operations, but we cannot be an island of stability in an ocean of turmoil. Canada needs to do its part,” he said. “We are going to take a thorough effort before we put all the facts together and before we have a thorough debate on this.”

While Dallaire voiced strong support for Canada jumping back into peacekeeping, he said there could be challenges beyond simply dealing with the UN. Those include making sure any mission can be deployed and resupplied in a timely manner, and having enough troops to sustain a long-term effort.

“It is simply the fact that there has been mass attrition from the ‘90s, and we have never recovered,” he said, in reference to the Chretien government’s decision to cut the military by about one-third in the 1990s. “That is what will limit our options.”

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told The Canadian Press on the weekend that the military was not recommending any missions that would stretch it too thin. He also said he was comfortable the military could conduct a peacekeeping mission in Africa while operating in the Middle East and Latvia.

While Dallaire was supportive of the Liberal government returning to peacekeeping, he was somewhat critical of its decision to commit only 150 police officers to such efforts. He said the National Police Services advisory council had recommended 600 police officers back when he was a member.

“One-hundred fifty is a good first shot,” he said, “but not enough.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

Canadian army bound for Africa: Gen. Jonathan Vance
(CP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Assembly of First Nations chief urges Liberals to act on funding pledge to First Nations

19 Sep 16
No Comments

The Liberal government has promised billions of new dollars to improve the lives of Canada’s indigenous people, but the head of the Assembly of First Nations says chiefs want to know when that money will flow.

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated his desire to “repair this most important relationship,” Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the AFN, told The Globe and Mail in an interview on Monday that there are many ways in which the nearly one-year-old government is failing to meet that commitment.

With the new sitting of Parliament starting this week after a three-month summer break, Mr. Bellegarde said it is time for the Liberals to redouble their efforts to raise indigenous people out of poverty and to provide the kinds of supports they wrote into their campaign platform.

“On certain issues and files, they are doing good things. On others, they’re not,” Mr. Bellegarde said.

The federal budget released in March allotted $8.4-billion over the next five years to improve the socioeconomic conditions in indigenous communities. Much of that money was slated to roll out toward the end of the current four-year mandate and in the year after the next vote.

Mr. Bellegarde said he and other First Nations leaders are happy with the amount pledged but, in order for it to have a meaningful impact, it’s got to get out to the First Nations communities.

“All I can tell you,” he said, “is I have been across Canada and I have been listening to chiefs and leaders, and everywhere I go, when I start talking about the $8.4-billion, they say, ‘Well, Chief Bellegarde, yeah, that’s a really high figure, but we’re not seeing it out on the ground yet.’ We’ve got to find more effective ways to get the funding flowing out.”

Carolyn Bennett, the Indigenous Affairs Minister who met with Mr. Bellegarde on Monday afternoon to discuss the fiscal relationship, said she, too, travelled to many indigenous communities this summer and found a general level of satisfaction.

“They can actually see things – projects being approved and shovels in the ground and this is a very happy time,” Dr. Bennett said.

Some people are impatient, she said. “The kind of money in the budget sounds like a lot of money. There’s no way it was going to come out right away,” Dr. Bennett said. “But stable, predictable, adequate funding, that’s what we are keen to do and we are going to find out how we can do it better.”

There have been some significant irritants beside for First Nations since the Trudeau government took office.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has twice called out the Liberals for failing to increase funding for child-welfare services on reserves to the same level as is provided in the rest of Canada. Correcting that disparity will be a major focus for the AFN when budget consultations take place this year, Mr. Bellegarde said.

Meanwhile, in July, two federal departments gave the approvals required for the construction of the massive Site C hydro dam on the Peace River in British Columbia. Two First Nations say the project will flood their traditional hunting, fishing and trapping grounds, as well as their ancestral burial sites.

“Never mind the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that speaks to the right of free, prior and informed consent,” Mr. Bellegarde said. “I have stated publicly [with regard to Site C] that [the Liberal cabinet ministers] are not following their own Constitution. Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution says existing aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed.”

Dr. Bennett said that, in a relationship such as the one that exists between Canada and the First Nations, there will be times when the expectations of one partner or the other will not be met. “But I think that there is a real respectful relationship,” she said, “where we actually, I think, are really moving forward in a good way, where people know that’s what friends do. You correct one another.”

The National Chief said he understands that not all of the problems facing First Nations can be corrected in a year. And he pointed out that some long-standing situations have been addressed – reserves in Northern Ontario that have gone without clean water for decades have opened new treatment facilities with help from Ottawa.

“The relationship with the Liberal government is still strong, no question,” Mr. Bellegarde said. “But is it ideal or perfect on all files? Well, obviously not.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

‘There’s no easy fix, we know that’: Trudeau on challenges facing First Nations
(CP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

House of Commons committee urges reform for temporary foreign-worker program

19 Sep 16
No Comments

A Liberal-dominated House of Commons committee is recommending major changes to the temporary foreign worker program, including ending the rule that forces workers to leave the country after four years.

The long-awaited report is expected to guide upcoming changes to the program that have been promised by the cabinet.

Initial reaction from some industry groups was positive, but one labour leader attacked the recommendations as a “political bait and switch” that will make the program easier to access for employers.

The Commons human resources committee released a report on Monday afternoon that makes 21 recommendations, including some that are aimed at responding to concerns from specific industries and others that focus on warnings that the program leaves foreign workers vulnerable to abuse.

As first reported by The Globe and Mail last month, the report recommends that the program should be changed to make it easier for foreign workers to become permanent residents in Canada. Specifically, it concludes that a 2011 rule change that imposed a four-year ban from the program on individual foreign workers who had been in Canada for four years should be eliminated because it makes it harder for these workers to become permanent residents.

The committee also calls for the elimination of a rule that ties a foreign worker’s permit to a specific employer, based on testimony that this creates a power relationship that is open to abuse.

It said it heard from various temporary foreign employees who indicated that migrant workers may experience a wide range of abuse, including verbal, physical and sexual abuse, working for no wages and being forced to work more hours or days than cited in their agreement.

The report argues that employers who have a clean track record of using the program should be given more leniency in terms of the forms and reporting that are currently required. The committee calls on the government to develop a “trusted employer” stream.

Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president for Restaurants Canada, a lobby group that opposed changes to the program made under the Conservatives, said she was pleased with the recommendations. “We felt that the previous government overreacted in terms of the reforms and that the pendulum swung far too far and this committee is finding the important middle ground in terms of meeting the needs of Canadians and employers and foreign workers,” she said.

In contrast, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan is furious with the recommendations. He said he believes that the Liberals misled voters by promising a review of the program “with the clear implication that the goal would be to rein in and roll back the program.”

“What we’re seeing with this report is a government intent on making it easier for employers to access guest workers from abroad. From my perspective, this is the worst kind of political bait and switch,” he said.

Mr. McGowan said several of the recommendations remove or limit the requirements for employers to prove that they would look for Canadian workers first.

Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum issued a joint statement saying the government would respond to the recommendations within 120 days.

The Conservatives and the NDP each issued dissenting reports on Monday and both were highly critical of the fact that the main recommendations were based on just five days of hearings. The parties said further study is clearly needed before the government adopts major changes to the complicated and wide-ranging program.

Syed Hussan, co-ordinator of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said he hopes that the government moves on recommendations that would give migrant workers more rights. “Largely, the report affirms what we already know, which is that the program denies basic rights and permanent residency to migrant workers,” he said.

Also on The Globe and Mail

Bono: ‘The world needs more Canadas’
(CP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Tory MPs take aim at Liberals’ carbon price plan

19 Sep 16
No Comments

Conservative MPs returned to Parliament on Monday with an attack on the Liberal government’s plan for a national carbon price, saying it runs roughshod over the provinces and would hurt the Canadian economy.

As the Commons resumed sitting after the summer recess, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna defended the government’s approach, saying she has consulted widely with provincial colleagues and noting that Canada’s four most populous provinces have already introduced carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We understand the environment and the economy go together,” Ms. McKenna said during Question Period Monday. “We understand and know that carbon pricing is the most efficient way to reduce emissions and foster innovation.”

However, Conservative MPs insisted the Liberal plan would add to pain on the Prairies, where the economy is suffering from a two-year slump in crude prices.

The Environment Minister confirmed on the weekend that Ottawa will impose a minimum carbon price in provinces that don’t have one or fail to meet the federal minimum standard, though she offered no details on how the policy would be enacted.

Alberta and Saskatchewan rely heavily on oil exports, and on coal to fuel their electricity systems. Alberta’s NDP government has introduced a climate plan that includes carbon pricing, while Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall opposes any effort to impose a broad carbon tax.

Nova Scotia also opposes the Liberals’ plan for a national minimum carbon price.

In Ottawa on Monday, Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said her party favours “regulation on industry rather than taxes on Canadians” when it comes to climate policy. However, the former Conservative government never acted on its long-standing promise to impose regulations on large industrial emitters, including the oil sands sector, which has been the country’s fastest growing source of GHG emissions.

Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said a federal carbon price would particularly hurt rural and northern Canadians who have farther distances to travel. B.C. MP Mark Strahl said any plan to increase British Columbia’s existing carbon tax would drive away investment, particularly proposals to invest in export facilities for liquefied natural gas.

Alberta MP Jason Kenney noted his province is suffering a severe economic downturn and argued that “the worst possible thing [would be] to hike prices and impose new taxes on everything.”

Mr. Kenney is preparing to resign his federal seat next month to run for the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party on a mandate to unite conservative opposition parties. Campaigning in the province this summer, he regularly attacked the NDP government’s carbon tax plan, which kicks in on Jan. 1, 2017.

In responding to Mr. Kenney on Monday, Ms. McKenna said carbon pricing is a market-based system that is considered the most efficient way to reduce GHG emissions.

While B.C. and Alberta have introduced carbon taxes, Ontario and Quebec are pursuing a cap-and-trade approach that uses a carbon market to, in effect, set a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

As Conservatives attacked the Liberals’ plan for a national floor price on carbon emissions, NDP interim leader Tom Mulcair criticized the government’s reluctance to set a more ambitious target than the one adopted by the former Harper government, which pledged Canada would reduce GHG emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“Does the minister think that is change, serving up the Conservative plan with a smile?” Mr. Mulcair demanded.

Ms. McKenna said emissions had been rising under the previous Conservative regime, making it challenging to meet the 2030 target. “What Canadians expect is real action and we are going to deliver real action, with the provinces and territories, with indigenous leaders, with business, with youth, with all Canadians.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

Export Development Canada ramps up Canada-U.K. trade with new exports hub
(BNN Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Global Affairs ‘aware’ of unconfirmed reports Canadian kidnapped in Libya

19 Sep 16
No Comments

Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of “the troubling, yet unconfirmed” report of the abduction of a Canadian citizen in Libya.

Local government officials in the southern city of Ghat say three foreign engineers, who worked for an Italian construction company, were abducted by unidentified assailants early in the morning.

Italy’s foreign ministry has confirmed two Italians were among those kidnapped.

Global Affairs spokesman Michael O’Shaughnessy says the government is “diligently pursuing all appropriate channels.”

The statement from the Ghat municipality quoted Mayor Koumani Mohammed Saleh as saying that al-Qaida is not behind the abduction.

Saleh said the abduction of the engineers was carried out by a small outlawed group.

He also said that officials are working on securing their release. The incident, the statement said, is “unprecedented” in Ghat, a city controlled by the Tripoli-based government of national unity.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Foreign farm groups press for dairy trade challenge against Canada

19 Sep 16
No Comments

Canada’s heavily protected dairy industry has ended up in the crosshairs of foreign farm groups from Europe to the United States to Australia, with these lobbies now pressing their respective governments to launch a new trade challenge at the World Trade Organization.

The farm groups charge that planned measures by Canadian dairy producers to displace milk imports would violate Canada’s obligations under both the North American free-trade agreement and at the WTO – a body that referees global commerce.

A win for foreign complainants at the WTO would enable some of this country’s biggest trading partners to slap punitive tariffs on Canadian goods and could ultimately force changes to Canada’s sheltered market for milk production.

In Canada, tariffs slapped on foreign dairy products can run as high as 300 per cent.

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking from Wolfsburg, Germany, where she was promoting the Canada-European Union free-trade deal, played down the matter, saying the notion of filing a trade complaint against the Canadian government is still just talk at this stage.

She noted the Canadian dairy industry’s plans are not yet in place, and put distance between Ottawa and the measures under development, noting the plans are an “industry-led initiative.”

Still, asked whether she could defend these practices, Ms. Freeland said she supports the dairy industry. “It’s my job to support our producers wherever I go. And I do that with real enthusiasm.”

Dairy-industry groups from the 27-member EU, the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand wrote an open letter to their political leaders last week saying that Canada’s “increasingly protectionist policies … are in conflict with the principles of free markets and fair and transparent trade.” They urged the filing of a complaint at the WTO as soon as the intricate details of a new deal negotiated between Canada’s dairy producers and processors are revealed.

The matter was triggered by rising U.S. imports of diafiltered milk, which have managed to evade the crippling duties Canada normally imposes on foreign dairy products. The processed milk is concentrated and high in protein, but lacking much of the fat in regular milk. It is imported as an ingredient. Canadian farmers estimate they lost as much as $231-million annually as food processors bought the cheaper U.S. milk instead – mostly to make cheese.

In the name of stability, the federal government restricts imports of a number of farm goods such as dairy products with a massive tariff wall; domestic production of these items is set by quota in a command-and-control approach to the farm economy that dates back to the mid-20th century.

To combat U.S. diafiltered milk, Ontario’s dairy industry earlier this year established a new class of milk and pricing for milk destined for processing that would enable the province’s producers to undercut U.S. imports.

All signs are that the Dairy Farmers of Canada and the national dairy processors association have struck a similar countrywide arrangement, although details have yet to be released. The groups in July announced “a national agreement that includes the creation of an ingredients strategy.”

Canadian trade lawyer Lawrence Herman said the foreign dairy farmers have a point. “This is all about the contortions that we in Canada have to go through to maintain a Soviet-style system for dairy products,” he said.

“What they’re saying is here is Canada again manipulating the market in order to allow protected dairy producers to compete with legitimately priced imported product.”

The Dairy Farmers of Canada called the complaint by foreign farm groups an effort to intimidate Canadians. “They are trying to bully the Canadian government with this letter,” spokeswoman Isabelle Bouchard said. “By the way, the U.S. is imposing a $2 tax on an imported pound of butter right now, so they are not respecting international trade … they are throwing rocks while living in a glass castle.”

Ms. Bouchard declined to discuss the national dairy strategy, saying it’s still yet to be approved. “The agreement is in front of our members and until it is ratified, we won’t speak publicly about it. Everybody needs to respect our democratic process.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

Take an insider tour of Canada’s first water buffalo farm
(CTVNews Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Ottawa to impose a national carbon price on the provinces

18 Sep 16
No Comments

The Liberal government will move this fall to impose a minimum, national carbon price on provinces that fail to adopt their own pricing system for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, a plan that is adamantly opposed by some key premiers.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna also indicated Sunday that the government will not commit to a more aggressive target for reducing emissions than the one adopted by the Harper government in 2015, though environmentalists argue that the goal is a weak one.

Ottawa will require provinces to adopt either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade approach and to meet a federally established minimum price, Ms. McKenna said on CTV’s Question Period. The federal government will impose its own system on provinces that fail to meet that minimum threshold, the minister said.

“It’s mandatory that everyone will have to have a price on carbon,” Ms. McKenna said Sunday. “If provinces don’t do that, the federal government will provide a backstop.”

Ms. McKenna said the government will outline its plan prior to a first ministers’ meeting this fall at which federal, provincial and territorial leaders aim to conclude a national climate strategy.

Ottawa is looking at options for a carbon levy – likely in the form of higher taxes on fuels – that would be imposed on provinces that refuse to adopt their own plans or fail to meet the federal minimum price, sources have told The Globe and Mail.

The government’s determination to implement a national carbon price is meeting with resistance and some outright opposition from premiers. Provinces that already have carbon-pricing regimes, notably Quebec, worry that Ottawa will intervene and force them to get tougher, while the premiers in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia argue that they have their own climate plans and that the federal approach will hurt key industries and consumers.

Ms. McKenna said that provinces can choose a tax on greenhouse-gas emissions, which British Columbia and Alberta have adopted, or the cap-and-trade approach favoured by Ontario and Quebec.

The price will have to be sufficiently high to encourage businesses and consumers to conserve energy or switch to cleaner, renewable sources, she said. And it will have to rise over time.

British Columbia has a carbon tax of $30 per tonne of carbon-dioxide emissions, a level Alberta intends to reach in 2018. B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced last month her government would not increase its carbon levy – which has been frozen since 2012 – until other provinces move in lockstep.

In addition to a carbon price, Ottawa wants a national strategy to include a commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas extraction, a new plan to phase out coal-fired power and a host of measures to encourage the adoption of clean-energy technology, sources say.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hopes to have a national plan in place ahead of the United Nations’ summit to be held in Morocco in early November.

The Prime Minister and premiers met in Vancouver in March and agreed on the need for a national climate plan that would reflect the country’s commitments made at the Paris climate summit last December, and would include some form of carbon pricing.

The government intends this fall to ratify the Paris agreement in which nations agreed to limit global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius. As part of that effort, Canada committed to cut GHG emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, a goal set by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

While critics complain the target is the weakest among leading industrialized nations, the Liberal government has long signalled that it considers the goal to be ambitious. Ms. McKenna argues it is more important to focus on effective measures to reduce emissions rather than targets.

“We’re going to take real action. … The Harper target was a fake target because [the Conservatives] did nothing” to achieve it, she said.

Although Ms. McKenna expressed optimism about reaching a federal-provincial-territorial deal, some provinces and territories have expressed opposition to Ottawa’s plan for a national carbon price and its proposal to speed up the phaseout of coal-fired power.

Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia argue that they already have a form of carbon pricing – the prairie province through its major investment in technology that captures GHG emissions from coal-fired generating stations, and Nova Scotia through costly measures to reduce GHGs in its electricity sector.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been the most vocal opponent to Ottawa’s climate strategy, saying Mr. Trudeau is reneging on his promise to collaborate with the provinces on the issue.

On Sunday, he questioned whether the country should meet its UN target, arguing that to do so could impose onerous costs on the oil-and-gas sector in Western Canada.

And he reiterated his opposition to any federally imposed carbon price. “If it’s some sort of universal price that will manifest itself as a tax and be disproportionately impacting the energy sector, which is already reeling, then we have a big problem in Saskatchewan,” he told CTV’s Question Period.

British Columbia and Alberta indicated they are not concerned with the federal carbon price plan because they expect it to be consistent with their existing policies. It’s not clear, however, whether the federal government will insist on a more aggressive increase in the carbon price than those governments would find comfortable. B.C.’s Ms. Clark faces a general election next May, while Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley faces stiff opposition to her government’s carbon pricing from conservative opposition parties.

“We support the adoption of B.C.’s price on carbon as a national benchmark and increasing that price together in an affordable way, once other jurisdictions catch up,” a spokesman for British Columbia’s environment ministry said in an e-mailed statement. “The tax can only increase if it remains revenue neutral and every dollar is returned to citizens in the form of tax relief.”

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the province is “well-prepared for whatever comes out of Ottawa” on climate policy, given its own strategy that was rolled out last year.

“This is why we took the time to consult with Albertans to establish a credible system that ensures carbon revenues are reinvested back in Alberta,” she said in a statement.

Ontario’s Liberal government applauded the federal role, even as it implements its own plan to establish caps on GHG emissions and join a market with Quebec and California in which companies can buy and sell carbon-emission credits.

“Ontario welcomes renewed federal leadership on combatting climate change and we are committed to working with them to build a plan that delivers on our national target,” said David Mullock, a spokesman for Environment Minister Glen Murray. “A pan-Canadian price on carbon is an important part of that.”

Also on The Globe and Mail

Carney discusses the impact of carbon pricing on the market
(The Globe and Mail)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Wounded NDP exploring ways to raise cash, win back progressive voters

18 Sep 16
No Comments

The federal NDP will turn to its network of social activists to woo progressives back to the party fold this fall, according to the party’s new national director.

Nearly a year after the last election, New Democrats are trying to stop the bleed of support to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Robert Fox, a former Oxfam executive who was recently named NDP national director, said there are many activists who are not connected to the party and could be.

“We need to reach out and ensure that all the sorts of people who are working on the issues that we are working on, that they feel we are open to them and we are looking for their participation, we are looking for their ideas we are looking for their energy, we are looking for their passion,” Fox said.

A direct appeal to the left was on the tip of Tom Mulcair’s tongue at the party’s caucus meeting in Montreal last week, where he defined the party’s core values as “environmentalism, pacifism, feminism and socialism.”

For his part, Fox is trying to use his own experience to address internal party challenges, such as slumping fundraising figures.

Elections Canada figures from the second quarter of 2016 paint a bleak financial picture for the New Democrats who collected $1.08 million from 15,906 donors.

The figures are a far cry from the Conservatives, who brought in $5.07 million from 37,223 donors, and the Liberals who received $4.9 million from 36,080 contributors.

The first thing New Democrats need to do is tap the strength of the 44-member team itself, Fox noted.

Veteran caucus member Nathan Cullen said he is confident that the NDP can stay connected to progressives who will consider his party again in three years.

He believes many voters are giving the Liberals the benefit of the doubt for now, but said Trudeau’s actions on issues including electoral reform and climate change will be the real test.

“If he disappoints, folks are just dating,” Cullen said in an interview.

“We’ve never had a celebrity prime minister before … the world of celebrity is a very different place. It gets built quickly and it gets torn down quickly.”

Cullen — a 2012 NDP leadership candidate who opted to stay out of this race — also believes the leadership race will help to generate enthusiasm and money once the race isn’t so far away.

So far, there are no candidates vying to replace Tom Mulcair. A successor will be named next fall.

“Whenever a leadership contest happens, you see a rush of new members as all of the candidates try to sign up people,” said Queen’s University labour and history professor Christo Aivali.

“While that happens, there’s usually associated donations. That will help. I think a new leader will create a … person behind which the party can work forward towards. That will help bring in new money.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail